An invite to try Alto in Causeway Bay came on a very good day for their owners, Dining Concepts. An initial IPO was so oversubscribed that the stock immediately soared 1700%. When one of the companies that holds a stake is run by the son of China’s richest man, then you can understand the enthusiasm. His karaoke bar bills of US$385,000 would probably be welcome too.
In common with many HK openings recently, the paint is barely dry on the building. It’s a new 31 floor tower, opposite Soundwill, home to Jamie’s and more. Someone may one day count but there must be more than 60 restaurants in a short stretch. Alto – as the name suggests – has nabbed the top floor. Up two escalators, then an elevator, it’s one long dining room where the window seats are most coveted for great views of the harbour, while to one end corner tables give excellent and unusual views over Causeway Bay and Wan Chai towards Pacific Place.
The design is by Tom Dixon and features some rather groovy lights in the form of large upturned wine glasses as well as other motifs. With Christofle cutlery, pretty design touches and tables that are generously sized, it makes for a relaxed and understated room. (Ask for a circular banquette if you’re not insistent on seeing every last firework or laser.)
Judging by the name you’d think that Italian would be the order of the day, whereas in fact this is largely about the grill. It is a truth universally acknowledged that vegetarians love steakhouses. Ridiculous though it may seem, the wealth of sides ranging from salads to caramelized sprouts, mac n cheese to buttered parsnips are enough to keep the most ardent herbivore satisfied.
Bread was excellent, soft and warm and seemingly pre-injected with butter. Yum.
One of their signatures was the watermelon salad ($118), with more feta and a thyme and raisin dressing. More importantly it was substantial enough to keep the vegetarian occupied and happy.
Likewise the spinach and artichoke dip ($158), enormous, enough to make Popeye OD. Hot and stringy and the ultimate in good versus sinful ingredients, spooned onto the griddle-toasted bread.
The USDA Prime 14oz ribeye for the carnivore ($398) was just a shade towards medium from medium rare, but again voluminous and just as succulent as you’d expect grass-fed to be.
The black truffle french fries were excellent. People bleat on about using truffle oil being an affront to truffles.Well maybe but it works and at a lot more realistic price point than if you sliced Périgord’s finest on your chips.
Given the generous portions we broke the habit of a lifetime by passing on dessert. Service from our Spanish waitress was excellent and the full dining room suggested that Alto has got off to a pretty good start.